Friday Night Lights is a 2004 film based on the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, a Dream by H. G. Bissinger. The film was a critical and financial success, and a television series of the same name followed in 2006.
The film is set in Odessa, Texas, and chronicles the 1988 season of the Permian High School Panthers. The film deals with the team's importance to the town and the underlying social and economic issues the players, townspeople, and coaches all deal with on a daily basis. The film won an ESPY award for Best Sports Movie, and Entertainment Weekly places the film at #37 on its list of the Best High School Movies.
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- Abusive Parents: Donnie's father, a washed up ex-star, violently assaults his son on at least two occasions and resents him for not being as good a player as he once was.
- Alliterative Name: Coach Gary Gaines.
- Best Years of Your Life: Adults are quick to remind the players that their current success is the most they will ever have. Summed up by one saying: "After high school, it's just babies and memories". However, the idea that their current moments are the best they'll have and all that awaits them is nostalgia and bitterness terrifies all of them deeply.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Panthers lose in the state finals. However... a caption at the end of the film reveals that in 1989 — one year after the film's events take place — Permian does go all the way and win the state championship.
- Down to the Last Play: Subverted. The quarterback for the Panthers is stopped one yard short of the end zone, and the team loses. The ending sequence is played in slow motion with members of the Panthers having a Heroic BSoD, as they can't believe they just lost. It also subverts Underdogs Never Lose, since the team had to jump through several hoops just to make it to the title game.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: Especially fanaticism over high school football. It's not uncommon for small towns to almost completely shut down on Friday nights in the fall.
- Genre Deconstruction: Of sports movies. Numerous feel-good sports films in the 90s and early 00s focused on underdog stories and persevering under bad circumstances. Friday Night Lights revolves around the Permian Panthers, one of the most successful high school football programs in the United States. It highlights the extreme pressure, pathetic post-high school career aspirations, and utter obsession with football that colors the lives of the young players, several of them visibly buckling under the ridiculous expectations that the town places on their shoulders. One player is even abused out in the open by his alcoholic father, a former star player himself who can't accept the harsh realities of life outside of football. Odessa is a Dying Town that has nothing going for it besides the Permian Panthers, and that infatuation is what ultimately leads to the team losing at the state finals on the last play, one yard short of the goal line. And it's all Truth in Television, as anyone from Texas and the rural South could attest to, especially in the withering boomtowns and oilfields that stretch all across western and central Texas.
- Jaded Washout: Donnie's father, Charlie. Once a star player, he is now a violent alcoholic angry at life and himself for not living up to his potential, taking his self-hatred out on his son.
- Laser-Guided Karma: It is heavily implied that Boobie Miles stole Chris Comers helmet so that he didnt have to come out of the first game of the year despite the team being up big. On the next play, Miles tears his ACL, ending his season and his career.
- Manly Tears: Subverted. When Boobie breaks down to his uncle, it is full on weeping with nothing even resembling stoicism.
- Reality Ensues: Boobie Miles gets hurt playing football, and his doctor tells him to rest so as not to exacerbate the injury. But then, Boobie decides that the Permian Panthers need him too badly in a crucial game, and decides to play through his injury. Not long after he gets on the field, the injury takes him right back out with a torn ACL. This time, the injury so bad that it ends Boobie's football career before he's even out of high school. That's what happens when you ignore a doctor's advice about a severe injury!
- Serious Business: Deconstructed with football. The extreme passion people in the town have for the sport is implied to make things worse for the team as it is their burden to make the town proud and most of them are fighting enough of their own battles without the pressure of a town's failed dreams on their backs.
- Underdogs Never Lose: Averted. The Panthers lose the state championship game when their quarterback just barely fails to reach the end zone. After the final whistle blows, he breaks down in tears.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After the state championship, captions over various team personnel reflect what happened to them, including the coaches.